Giving a road test to an applicant seeking employment can be one of the best ways to determine whether the individual will be a safe hire. When conducting a road test, you can spot poor driving habits that may translate into serious crashes if the behaviors are not corrected.
- Watch how a pre-trip inspection is performed. Behavior around the truck, even before a driver is on the highway, can be a good clue. Make sure the applicant does a coupling procedure to be certain he/she is knowledgeable about this process. If a driver is uncertain about the process, future equipment damage or possible trailer separation claims can occur.
- Observe how the applicant enters and exits the cab. Did he/ she use the 3-point contact system? If not, you could be hiring a potential workers’ compensation risk.
- Monitor speed management and lane control on the roadway. Difficulties in either area can be a red flag, indicating potential issues in vehicle control skills.
- Determine if the applicant has strong defensive driving skills at intersections. Watch to see if the driver slows slightly and covers the brake upon approach. After stopping at a red light, does the driver check traffic left and right prior to entering the intersection when the light turns green?
- Notice whether the driver allows the vehicle to rollback slightly after stopping at an intersection. Check to make sure the driver keeps the truck in gear, clutch in and right foot on the brake, and that no rollback occurs when driver puts the vehicle in forward motion.
- Watch for braking in curves and turns. If the driver is entering any curve too fast and brakes in the curve, there is a rollover crash potential in the future. Make sure the driver slows prior to the curve to at least 10 mph below the posted limit and applies slight power through the curve or turn. This is also an important winter driving skill.
- Monitor the applicant’s observation skills. For example, if you go under a bridge which has a bridge height sign, ask the driver after you have passed under the bridge what the bridge height sign indicated. Also, watch to see that the applicant is checking mirrors every few seconds.
- Check turning and visual search skills. Have the applicant perform at least two right turns and two left turns. Preferably, these should be somewhat tight right turns and, if possible, a double-lane left turn.
The driver should demonstrate proper set-up and proper observation skills before, during, and after the turn. Running the trailer tires up over the curb, or turning so far wide that a car could easily slide in beside the truck are indicators that a future right turn squeeze accident is likely. Failing to check traffic to the rear during a left turn could be a sign that a left turn squeeze accident could occur.
- Observe the applicant’s following distance habits. Ask what his/her personal rule is, and then watch what happens with traffic on the freeway. Does the applicant take any corrective measures to regain following distance? A driver who is passive in this situation will be more likely to be involved in a rear-end crash in the future.
- Require the applicant perform at least two backing maneuvers. The first is a straight-line backing maneuver into a dock, and the second is an angle backing maneuver. Monitor to see if the applicant gets out to look prior to backing. Not doing so could be a sign the driver will not get out to look when no one is around watching, and future backing accidents are likely.
Establish a documented set route for your road tests. Having all potential new hires test on the same route will ensure you are conducting a consistent test and are checking for the most significant risk factors.
Source: Great West Casualty Company